By Stan Beall
The Star Herald
FRENCH CAMP —
FRENCH CAMP––In 1993 the French Camp Academy Panthers made their one and only trip to the 1A North State Championship game and were defeated 19-6 by Smithville on a cold and rainy night.
The Panthers would not have that chance again until this past Friday night when the Shaw Hawks paid the Panthers a visit to battle for the 2012 North State Championship, to which the Panthers won 28-8, minus the rain.
The Panthers had defeated the Hawks 16-14 on September 21, winning the contest on a late field goal by kicker Same Gould.
The Hawks only other loss was to an undefeated Class 3A Cleveland Eastside team.
The Shaw Hawks received the opening kick and promptly drove the ball down the field deep into Panther territory.
With 6:03 remaining in the first quarter, defensive back Hagan Box stepped in front of a Hawk pass and returned it 90 yards for the games first touchdown, Sam Gould kick, to take a 7-0 lead.
Shortly after the Box interception, Ben Hosket intercepted the Panthers second pass of the night on the Hawks 32 yard line with about 5:30 left in the first quarter.
With 5:11 remaining in the first quarter, Panther quarterback Jesse Hosket found Lavondra Carter on a 27-yard strike, Gould kick, to take a 14-0 lead.
With 3:45 left in the first quarter, Lavondra Carter picked off another Hawk pass and he returned it 23 yards for another Panther touchdown, Gould kick, and took a 21-0 lead into the second quarter.
Neither team would score in the second quarter and the Panthers took a 21-0 lead into the intermission.
Shaw was able to add a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the third quarter to cut into the Panther lead, and now trailed 21-7 to begin the fourth quarter.
With 6:23 left in the fourth quarter, Box pouched one in from two-yards out, Gould kick, to increase their lead to 28-8 and secure the contest, claiming the 1A North State Championship.
The Panthers were able to pick-off six Hawk passes on the night, returning two for touchdowns while sacking the Hawk quarterback six times.
Offensive leaders for the Panthers were quarterback Jesse Hosket, 5-14 passing for 79 yards and a touchdown while carrying the ball 13 times for 55 yards, Jaylon Clemons had 14 carries for 52 yards, Hagan Box with five carries for eight yards and a touchdown and Lavondra Carter with 5 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.
The defensive leaders for the Panthers were Ben and Jesse Hosket with nine tackles each, Dylan Dickey with eight tackles and two sacks, Jaylon Clemons with seven tackles, Douglas Hughes with six tackles and a sack, Andrew Stevens with three tackles and two sacks and Matthew Castle with two tackles and a sack.
"We are just ecstatic–glad to be in this position and very fortunate and blessed to be where we are and the kids are playing at a fantastic level," said head coach Nathan Wright. "They are playing hard and they worked hard during Thanksgiving week–you want to see them win with the way they are playing and carrying themselves too, I'm just proud for them."
The Panthers earned their way to the MHSAA Class 1A State Championship game by defeating Coldwater 42-6 in the first round of the playoffs. The Panthers then traveled to Greenville to take on St. Joseph in the second round and defeated the Irish 31-18 to claim their spot in the North State Championship game.
The Panthers, who are now 11-2 overall, will represent the North in Class 1A
at Mississippi Veteran's Memorial Stadium on Friday morning at 11 a.m. when they take on the South 1A Champion Stringer Red Devils, who are 13-1 overall.